A career in education, like a career in the government, used to be regarded as desirable, the field regarded as a recession-proof industry. This is no longer the case in Japan.

What has been dubbed the McEnglish effect in Japan is the phenomenon of mega-chains of English language schools. The negative aspects of their operations only recently came under public  scrutiny with the collapse of the NOVA chain of schools, which was the equivalent of Burger King,  if not McDonald’s, in the realm of  eikaiwa – English conversation schools.   (See Nova debacle shows need for change in eikaiwa system by Alexander Jacoby Japan Times  November 24, 2007)

Now the third of three largest eikaiwa schools (AEON, NOVA, GEOS) in Japan is rumoured to be in deep trouble (GEOS also offers Berlitz courses).

Eight of GEOS schools in Australia have been temporarily suspended and gone into financial while the financial situation of the companies and ability to fund future operations of the schools is being currently assessed. The news is generating rumours that GEOS schools in Japan are also in trouble.  The relevant news links and summaries follow on immediately below…

Perth Now reports: ‘Emotional scenes erupted outside a Perth language school today after it closed unexpectedly due to financial problems.
Dozens of foreign students, who have already paid thousands of dollars for courses, were still arriving for night English classes at St Mark’s International College in Perth tonight. The school is one of eight language schools across Australia, owned by the GEOS group, that went into voluntary administration this afternoon. About 2300 foreign students are currently enrolled across the nation, facing an uncertain future.
The companies under administration are GEOS Melbourne Pty Ltd, GEOS Adelaide Pty Ltd, GEOS Sydney Pty Ltd, GEOS Cairns Pty Ltd, GEOS Gold Coast Pty Ltd, GEOS Perth Pty Ltd, GEOS Brisbane Pty Ltd, GEOS Management Services Pty Ltd and GEOS National English Academy Pty Ltd.

Eight English language schools in limbo (Melbourne Age; see also the Sydney Morning Herald report Jan 29, 2010)  Eight English language schools operated in Australia by the GEOS group have gone into voluntary administration, leaving their foreign students unsure of their future.  2,300 students & 390 staff in Australia found out when they arrived for classes in Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, Gold Coast, Cairns, Brisbane: school doors locked with a notice to contact the Administrators Ernst & Young.

GEOS has however assured its customers that the problems in Australia don’t affect GEOS in Japan (source: Damage Control).

Let’s Japan blogs about it in Eight GEOS Australia schools in ‘Voluntary Administration’ (January 31, 2010)

Luna International Language School at its blogspot assesses whether these events will affect GEOS Japan…

“Does this affect GEOS Japan? Yes. It is fairly common knowledge that GEOS has been in trouble for ages; wages of local staff has been late/unpaid since at least September 2009 in Japan. Has the company denied this? Yes. GEOS website is silent, and GEOS head office in Tokyo responded tonight “What are you talking about?”. Question is, why are they in the office at 9pm on a Saturday night?! Financially, GEOS relies on overseas income (especially from Australia) to pay the bills in Japan.”

Rumours are now rife online about the imminent collapse of GEOS in Japan (e.g. GEOS in the poo).

Universities due to close and more will follow Jan 24, 2010 ELT News  The financial strain caused by under-enrollment has forced five four-year private universities to stop accepting new students from the coming school year in April. They will close after the current students have graduated. Only two other universities have put a stop to new admissions for similar reasons during the postwar period. ELT News has more

Things are looking bleak financially on every front … according to today’s Japan Times report, Full kids allowances tall order: Noda, the senior vice finance minister Yoshihiko Noda has indicated that the DPJ is not going to be able to fulfll its election pledge of offering monthly allowances to families with children on a full scale from fiscal year 2011.  If the government were to offer full-scale child allowances of ¥26,000 a month from fiscal 2011, it would need a budget of more than ¥5 trillion a year, including related costs, while tax revenues are not expected to recover soon.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has launched the “Global 30”  Project for Establishing Core Universities for Internationalization, for the purpose of selecting universities that will function as core schools for receiving and educating international students. In 2009, thirteen universities were selected:  Tohoku University, University of Tsukuba, The University of Tokyo, Nagoya University, Kyoto University, Osaka University, Kyushu University, Keio University, Sophia University, Meiji University, Waseda University, Doshisha University, and Ritsumeikan University. These core universities are expected to play a major role in dramatically boosting the number of international students educated in Japan as well as Japanese students studying abroad.

According to the MEXT press release 2009/08/26, the designated universities will strive to offer more English-only courses, attract between 3,000-8,000 international students.

See also the ELT News Archive for more on this.

Japan: English courses to boost recruitment (24 Jan 2010, Issue 108 University World News.com)
As part of its aim of becoming a ‘global campus’ and in accordance with the Global 30 goal, Waseda wants to increase the number of foreign students from 3,125 last year to 8,000 – comprising 4,000 undergraduates and 4,000 postgraduates. The university also intends to boost the ratio of foreign professors to local ones by 20% as soon as it can attract them.
That should not prove too difficult as Waseda has links with 500 universities in 70 countries. It has started a strong recruitment drive across Asia and is promoting the fact that it offers 34 courses – 13 undergraduate and 21 postgraduate – in English.
Whereas China has positioned itself among foreign students as the place to study Mandarin, Chinese literature and traditional Chinese medicine, Japan promotes itself as the country for biotechnology and automobile courses.

Read also the related article: The “300,000 Foreign Students Plan” campaign

ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) Jobs in Japanese Public Schools

Professional tutors. From 2,000yen/hr Tokyo – Osaka – Nagoya – or Online


Elsewhere in the world on education:

US lessons on education spending Jan 31 2010 by Mike Baker (Educationnews.org)
British education may be down in the dumps over government spending prospects, but in the US the picture is rather different. President Barack Obama announced this week a big cash boost for schools and for university students…a $4bn (£2.5bn) increase in federal spending on elementary and secondary schools. In a memorable phrase, the president said that, in the current environment, “the best anti-poverty programme around is a world-class education”.  “the best anti-poverty programme around is a world-class education”.

Students at Potomac school hack into computers; grades feared changed By Michael Birnbaum and Jenna Johnson (Washington Post Friday, January 29, 2010)
Getting A’s in computer science but F’s in ethics: Churchill students hacked into system and changed class grades, sources say

Dr John Jensen offers some very valuable and practical advice on how to make your ESL teaching more effective.

Could student plagiarism actually be reduced? And could it be reduced not through fear of being caught, but through…education? asks Scott Jaschik in Insider Higher Ed. The evidence in a study released last Monday suggests that the answer to both questions is ‘yes’ – which could be welcome news to academics who constantly complain about students who either don’t know what plagiarism is or don’t bother to follow the rules about the integrity of assignments they prepare

Paula Goodyer discovers that making lunch is no simple task.
Find out what are the 8 qualities of powerful writing.

1..30.10 – President Barack Obama recently called for investing in effective after-school programs, summer school, and adding days to the school year in order to increase the amount of time American children spend learning. He is not alone in wanting to extend the opportunity for children to learn. Opinion polls show broad public support for providing children with more time to learn, both inside and outside of school. Ninety-six percent of the respondents in the 2007 Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll, which surveyed members of the public, agreed that providing “more instructional time and other help for lowperforming students” is an effective way to close the achievement gap between low- and high-achieving public school students.

Really Teaching Kids To Read Linda Schrock Taylor on the Spalding Reading Method and new product components:
Spalding for Home Educators is new this year. It is offered in two parts. Part 1 (15 hours) focuses on basic skills needed for teaching kindergarten through grade 2. Part 2 (15 hours) expands instruction to grade 3 and above.
The K-6 Teacher Guides Guides – designed to be used in conjunction with the 5th revised edition of WRTR – were produced in response to requests, from both home educators and classroom teachers, for more direction. The  In addition to providing guidance for lesson planning, the guides elaborate on lesson delivery; assessment and evaluation; plus contain many tips for more effective teaching. Another reason for creating the Guides was to meet state and local textbook adoption committee expectations. Teacher Guides have become an industry standard and adoption committees have a hard time understanding a program that does not provide them. (See also her article Spellings Rules Rule and Government Schools Hate Good Spelling )

A Word Analysis CD component is new –  it contains all words listed in sections A-Z of The Writing Road to Reading that have been analyzed to expedite lesson planning. The CD can be used to sort words by rules, parts of speech, spelling lists, and syllable patterns, all categories needed for teaching the week’s spelling/vocabulary words. Teachers and parents tell us it saves a great deal of time.
In response to home educators’ requests for decodable books aligned to Spalding phonogram introduction, eight (8) Kindergarten decodable readers will be available for the 2008-09 school year. They are specifically written to provide phonogram practice. These handsomely illustrated readers, used with WRTR and the Guide, will be introduced at weekly intervals, beginning with week eight. They will incorporate the phonograms taught that week, along with those already taught. The complete set will include 8 narratives, 8 informatives and 4 informative-narratives. The books will also be sold individually. Providing nascent readers with books is important, and their excitement over being able to read a real book is wonderful to behold. In addition, we believe the decodables will help textbook adoption committees who have frequently cited our lack of readers as a reason for rejecting The Spalding Method.

Just stop teaching reading

Linda Schrock Taylor recommends that US school districts districts “Learn to teach systematic, methodical encoding of the English language. The term for that is “Spelling.” If schools must drop anything, they should drop reading lessons in order to more perfectly teach spelling lessons.  Buy The Writing Road to Reading by Romalda Spalding. Order a set of the Spalding phono/gram (Greek for sound/write) cards.  Learn how to carefully teach students of all ages to Encode (put into code = Spell) and Decode (take from code = Read) English. Use precise pronunciation and expect the same from your students of all ages.” and “invest in products that work, like those from non-profit Spalding International. Demand that your districts hire Spalding trainers to do what the colleges failed to accomplish ? train teachers to effectively instruct. I promise, teachers will learn more in two weeks of Spalding training than they would learn in years spent at most of today’s university teacher-training programs.

School decision makers ? if you are unwilling to follow my advice to teach spelling, and then just stop teaching reading, also. You are wasting everyone’s time and money while you turn America into a mass of illiterates. Instead, direct your teachers to spend every day reading aloud to the classes. Students can use their auditory skills and so learn a wealth of vocabulary, concepts, and facts in order to develop a wide general knowledge base. For fulltime oral reading of increasingly more challenging texts, the public would finally gain from the money spent on teachers’ salaries. Students would exit school as educated individuals; as complete, whole human beings. America owes our children at least that much.”

The one question test by Linda Shrock Taylor

The article says that America used to produce literate students in one-room schoolhouses armed with just the Webster, but today’s schools have been churning out students who cannot read… and suggests reasons for this difference.

“When homes owned few books other than the Bible; Webster’s “Blue-backed Speller”; a reading book filled with wisdom, intelligent stories and big words; and a slim arithmetic book. …

Children came to school ? many without breakfast ? carrying a lunch pail that might hold something as simple as a butter sandwich (made more nutritious by being provided by the hard work of the parents rather than by funds stolen from the taxpayers to feed someone else’s child). The children often came from extremely poor homes; many where chickens and more, might have shared the dwelling on bitterly cold winter nights. The children often came in rags or hand-me-downs. But…the main difference between schools then and schools now is that then schools taught almost all children to read. The schools back then leveled the population UP!”  Read more here

On technology:

Technology in the classroom Keeli Cambourne (January 19, 2010) takes a look at the impressive state of smart classrooms in Australia and what the Federal Government’s $2.2 billion Digital Education Revolution initiative is accomplishing…

Australian school students are downloading homework on iTunes, listening to lessons via podcasts, communicating with other students all over the world through social networking sites, and even video conferencing with leaders of business and industry.

School students from primary to high school students are now being switched on to some of the most up-to-date technology available, from laptop computers for students in years 9-12 to interactive whiteboards, video-conferencing equipment and even virtual classrooms.

Schools throughout Australia will be using the technology of interactive whiteboards, which have the capabilities of connecting immediately to the internet so students and teachers can access information immediately. By connecting the whiteboards to a laptop computer and projector, teachers can also convert freehand writing on the whiteboard into text, then print it for students.

A Connected Classroom program enables students to log on to the worldwide web. All classrooms in Western Australia are connected classrooms, which enable them to support interactive facilities, and many use video conferencing and multimedia teaching strategies to further learning opportunities.

On trial by the Victorian education department are virtual classrooms that provide a computer accessible, online learning environment intended to fulfil many of the learning facilitation roles of a physical classroom. Teachers and students will communicate at a time they choose by exchanging printed or electronic media such as emails, message boards or blogs, or through technology that allows them to communicate in real time such as telephones, web conferencing or video conferencing.

The Victorian government is also installing this year Ultranet – a 21st-century online learning platform that will connect students, teachers and parents in every Victorian government school. The Ultranet allows students to access personalised learning activities and their current and ongoing records of achievement; teachers to create curriculum plans, collaborate with other teachers, monitor student progress and provide assessment online and parents to see up-to-date information about their child, including their timetable, attendance, tasks, teacher feedback and learning progress.

The Queensland Education Department has a similar concept in the Learning Place – a comprehensive online eLearning environment available to all staff and students with anywhere, anytime access through a dedicated portal. The Learning Place provides provides materials and resources such as digital images, sound files, video, online courses and lessons as well as hosting events such as online chats, festivals and collaborative projects.

Student Insights; Intact Families

by Linda Schrock Taylor discuss the role that a family’s make-up plays in the educating of children.about the important role of parenting by biological nuclear families.

Lesson Corner 200,000 free lesson plans